Weather

Anchorage could see wettest July on record as continuing rain prompts flood advisories

Rain

Heavy rain throughout Southcentral Alaska during the past week is expected to continue, setting the stage to make this July one of the wettest on record in Anchorage.

Communities throughout the region have already received roughly triple the rainfall that normally occurs during July, said National Weather Service forecaster Adam Przepiora.

Anchorage is likely to break its monthly precipitation record, Przepiora said. By Wednesday, 3.71 inches had fallen at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport so far this month, with more than 1.3 inches Tuesday alone.

“The wettest July on record was 4.49 inches in 2001,” he said. “And just based on our upcoming pattern, I believe we will easily surpass that at some point, probably in the next week or so.”

Palmer has received 2.78 inches of rain so far this month and Talkeetna 4.89 inches. The Matanuska and Susitna valleys have generally gotten slightly more rain than Anchorage, Przepiora said.

The heavy rain has raised water levels in streams and rivers throughout the region, many to near flood stage or into minor flooding. The weather service issued flood advisories for streams and rivers in Anchorage and Mat-Su.

The Chester and Campbell creeks in Anchorage approached flood stages Tuesday and Wednesday, which could send water into low-lying and poor-drainage areas.

A flood warning was in effect until Wednesday night for Willow Creek at the Parks Highway. There could be minor flooding on the roadway, but Przepiora said no major impacts were anticipated because water levels were expected to drop Wednesday.

A pause was expected in the rain for much of Wednesday, he said, but it will likely return overnight and continue into Friday with up to another inch. A light rain was expected to continue into Saturday before another storm system moves into the area late in the weekend or early next week, he said.

July precipitation in Anchorage

The continued rainfall stands in sharp contrast to the weather experienced last month throughout Southcentral Alaska. Anchorage in June had a near record-low month for rain — only one-tenth of an inch.

The dryness, paired with high temperatures, created extreme fire danger across much of the region. With the new pattern of cool, wet weather, that risk has diminished — at least for now, said Sam Harrel, an Alaska Division of Forestry public information officer.

“In large (fire) acreage years prior to this, we’ve seen a little lull for some wetting rains this time of year, but then August and September turn out unseasonably dry and warm again,” Harrel said. “Is that going to happen this year? The crystal ball is still a little hazy on that.”

Nearly 3 million acres had burned statewide by Wednesday morning. With the decreased danger, Harrel said, fire behavior has been moderated and crews have been able to contain a number of large blazes.

Firefighters and equipment from Outside arrived in the state last month, and Harrel said some crews are now able to return home.

“We were on a pretty grueling pace there for a while, and it’s nice to see that it’s backed off a little bit,” he said.

Tess Williams

Tess Williams is a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News, focusing on breaking news. Before joining the ADN in 2019, she was a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota and previously helped cover the Nebraska Legislature for The Associated Press. Contact her at twilliams@adn.com.

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